Is It Time to Make Sports Gender-Neutral? We Asked, You Answered
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Sports are meant to be the great equalizer, but which shifts would most level the playing field?
By OZY Editors
Last week, we asked: Should all sports go gender-neutral? You answered, and here are your thoughts, edited for clarity.
Cami Kidder, Los Angeles
This isn’t a simple yes-no question. Sport is already gender-neutral — it is society that puts rules, restraints and bias on it. No one is suggesting that we merge the NBA and the WNBA to create one coed league, yet reactionary people always freak out, like we do when we talk about gender equity or gender parity in sport. There is no equivalent for women who play baseball, no WMLB. So unless the MLB wants to create and support a league like the NBA did, they should recruit and train female baseball players.
If you want to discourage women from playing competitive sports, go ahead and make them compete against men. Roger Federer against Serena [Williams]? He’d destroy her.
Our women’s soccer team has been the predominant team in the world — over much more soccer-oriented nations like Germany, Spain and Brazil where women’s soccer was neglected at best, and banned at its worst. That has changed over the past decade, and the women of those countries can thank the Title IX–advantaged women of the U.S. The purpose of sport is competition and the benefits that come from it. The opportunity to play, to become a student-athlete or compete in the Olympics should be gender-neutral, and that can only be ensured by protecting women’s divisions in sport. Maybe take the word “men” off the male divisions and just declare it “open.” Best of the best are invited, regardless of sex.
Ken Cordle, Bakersfield, California
You want to end women’s sports? That’s a lot of college scholarships and future sports or other professional opportunities you are going to eliminate. Women will be hard hit enough now that guys compete as girls in high school, so it may become a moot point sadly.
While we are equal under the law, we have evolved differently, physically and mentally. We need to admit that and take the next evolutionary step, where we look at each other equally and not be trapped by that history.
There’s evidence to support that it makes more sense to divide sports by weight class rather than by gender.
I’m on the fence about “all” sports, but wrestling and boxing are already divided by weight, so “men are bigger” is a stupid argument — and really, what’s the reason that freaking golf is gendered? If nothing else, if you have girls’ teams and boys’ teams for the same sport, schools would be better off pooling resources for one team like they already do with track.
Barry Weinstein, Cary, North Carolina
In tournament bridge, there are gender-specific games as well as experience-restricted games, but the highest-level games are open to all. I think this is a good model for all sports. The highest level should be gender-neutral but with room for gender or other restrictions as applicable in other competitions. I would like to see a gender-neutral basketball league restricted to people under 6 feet tall, and perhaps one for those under 5-foot-8, and a gender-neutral football league for people under 200 pounds.
James Wilson, Croswell, Michigan
Sure. Go through the tryouts and let the best play. You may get 1 percent of women in contact sports who stand a chance. The problem is it will become an affirmative action type of thing where there are “required” amounts of each gender.
Andy Brookman, Redmond, Oregon
What about boxing or MMA? Would going gender-neutral in those sports normalize physical violence with men hitting women?
Hey, if “gender” is just a construct, why not?
Rather than making an abstract decision, why not try some integrated teams and see how it goes? We might be surprised.
- OZY Editors, OZY Author Contact OZY Editors